The congenial colleague

Gain the emulation of your co-workers

This project would be so much easier to finish if only he/she were more… Personable? Cooperative? Diplomatic? At one time or another, we’ve all said this to ourselves about someone with whom we work. Maybe it’s your cubicle-mate-or even the supervisor at the end of the hall. Whoever it might be, you know how you wish they would act — if only when they’re interacting with you.

It’s all too easy to point the finger at others. But maybe you should stop to consider whether similar sentiments are being harbored against you. How can you realistically expect people to give you what you aren’t willing to give them? If you want others to work with you in a respectful manner, your best bet would be to practice what you preach.

“There is no guarantee that practice of the Golden Rule in your dealings with others…will be returned in kind,” says Florence M. Stone, author of How to Resolve Conflicts at Work (AMACOM, $12.95). “But the alternative…’Do to others what they have done to you’-will guarantee fuss and fury between you and those you’ve done to.”

Good working relations are a healthy part of a productive workplace. But remember it all starts with you. Stone offers some suggestions to help you be the co-worker you want your colleagues to emulate:

  • Don’t order people around. Issuing commands will alienate your co-workers, making it unlikely that they will lend you a hand when you need it.
  • Don’t tell tales. Be tactful in your conversation with your peers. For example, don’t say anything to anyone that you wouldn’t want repeated in front of the boss. While it may be tempting to contribute to negative grapevine chatter, your participation can build ill will and a reputation for untrustworthiness.
  • Don’t put on airs. Playing one-up with your co-workers will only foster resentment and en-courage them to withhold key information or help.
  • Confront issues privately. A discussion of someone’s shortcomings has no place in the hallways or in front of other colleagues or customers.
  • Ignore insults and don’t counterattack. Returning angry words will only fuel the fire and take arguments to the next level. Take a deep breath before launching a verbal attack on a colleague. Find other means of resolving disagreements-agreeing to disagree and leaving it at that, for example-rather than lashing out. Remember, you can’t take words back once they’ve been spoken.
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